Nearing the end of a listless third quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers in which they trailed 84-80, the Utah Jazz needed a spark.
Paul Millsap provided one. And then some.
Millsap finished the third quarter with a crowd-energizing three-point play, and he scored 12 of Utah's first 16 points in the fourth quarter to help the Jazz rip open a close game and eventually win going away, 111-98.
Millsap finished with a game-high 23 points to go along with nine rebounds, two blocks and a steal.
According to Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, it was just another night at the office for the Jazz's fourth-year power forward, who signed a $32 million contract with the franchise over the summer.
"That's who he is," said Sloan. "He's come miles and miles and deserves a lot of credit for what he's been able to do. He has a couple of bad games, and obviously the pressure comes. It's a different kind of pressure when you make $8 million or whatever he made and have all that stuff that he had to go through.
"That would throw anybody off for a while," Sloan added. "But he's gonna play hard, and I was glad to see him" play well tonight.
For the record, Millsap was paid $10.3 million by the Jazz in the first month of his contract last summer.
Late in the third quarter and then in the fourth, he certainly did the kinds of things Jazz brass envisioned he would when they inked him to that deal.
Throughout the fourth quarter, Millsap did a little of everything — making key jumpers, grabbing big boards and playing stellar defense among other feats — to make sure the Jazz beat the Clippers for the 35th time in 36 meetings at EnergySolutions Arena.
Millsap's effort wasn't lost on the opposition.
"He's a little tricky with the basketball," said Clippers center Chris Kaman. "He's got good ball handling. He shoots the ball pretty well. We gave him some easy opportunities to get going."
And get going he did.
For his part, Millsap said he was energized by what his teammates did around him.
"I was just feeding off everybody else," he said.
Millsap was one of three Jazz players that helped fill in down low for injured starting center Mehmet Okur, who missed Friday's home-opener after mildly spraining his left ankle and left knee in the opening minute of the Jazz's season-opener in Denver on Wednesday.
"Still sore a little bit," said Okur after Utah's morning shootaround on Friday.
He's listed as day-to-day.
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